The twin towels.

1400 years ago Mecca was the home of Islam. In 2014, however, during the turmoil in Syria, Iraq and now Libya, it seems that Muslims are being split more and more, even in the only place they might actually agree on. I recently had the opportunity to visit Mecca; the home of Allah.

Recent work has changed the scenery since my last visit, which was in 2012. As if the constant commercialization of Haj (pilgrimage) and Umra weren’t enough, it seemed that the Saudi Arabian Kingdom decided that early Islamic sites were no longer relevant in comparison to the vast amounts of Muslims flooding for Haj and Umra.

While Medina had three of the world’s oldest mosques destroyed in the name of expansion, Mecca’s population had been paid, evacuated, and had their houses along with Islamic historical and archaeological heritage destroyed. Along with the constant destruction of physical Islam, tensions were high in Masjid al-Haram; where the Kaaba (big black cube) is located.

Muslims have multiple sects, namely; Shi’ites and Sunnis. While I personally have no preference, it seems that the growth of ISIS counts completely on the fact that they are fighting for Sunni rights; while Hezbollah is demonized as the Shi’i sect that has Islam misconstrued and uses it for the devil’s intentions. The divide between Sunnis and Shi’ites is nothing new, it has been around since the death of the Prophet Muhammad.

However, all these divides were generally put aside when both sects would come into contact in Mecca; not this time. It seemed that the divide wasn’t of importance, if anything, it was an insult to God all together. I went with my family. Personally, I decided to drape my towel on both shoulders, rather than just one. While Sunni people consider this to nullify my Umrah, the Shi’ites would disagree. As I did my Tawaf (Walking around the Kaaba 7 times), I found myself being inappropriately undressed, as I hadn’t been following the rules that the person behind me believed in. However, undressing people is not merely a habit of Sunnis it seems, my father, who had draped his towel on one shoulder, was also inappropriately dressed by another man, who disagreed with the way my father’s towel hung. As if we were in the ghettos of California where the way a piece of cloth hung off our bodies would signify which gang we belonged to, we were automatically categorized and hated/respected accordingly. I found those actions to undermine God, and minimize Him to the pettiness of man.

As if God is a child with a magnifying glass growing angrier at the mere thought that a man’s shoulder showed or not. I fear this divide between Sunnis and Shi’ites will only grow as the clashes continue and the growth of extremism in Islam continues. As long as petty things such as towels divide Muslims, governments and corporations will continue to undermine the very home of God and destroy all things that link us to the original ideals of Islam. tl;dr Muslims will fight about towels.

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Illusion of racism and superiority.

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that racism in itself is an illusion of superiority, obviously, that’s what everyone believes it is, but the reality is it’s the opposite of empowering to the racist party itself. The “White power” movement is very strong in certain areas of the world, and the most common type of propaganda perpetrated by them is against people of African origins, though, not limited to them. I’ve realized that in and out of itself being racist against a certain group shows a certain insecurity to one’s own race, as most of the propaganda shows black people with large penises and unrealistic level of idiocy. Much like a bully on the playground, this hatred might present itself as a form of dominance, but is a rather an insecure and sort of tribute to the perpetrator’s respect towards the people they “hate”. However, on the other end of the spectrum, as I’ve witnessed in Australia is a much more destructive and systematic form of racism. Aborigines in Australia are allowed a certain degree of leniency based on their race and right to ownership of the country in the sense that they receive welfare and certain superiority in the eyes of the law. This in itself, I believe, is a very destructive mentality, allowing them to be lazy and live a life of their own choosing with little to no repercussions. The larger portion of society would jump at a chance of a life where they have to do little to no work, and simply enjoy their life on a daily basis, resulting in a strong form of societal oppression, as they have no need for the institutionalized means to achieve their own cultural goals, completely disconnecting them from the majority of society, creating a minority on the basis of race. To truly achieve equality of any sense, I think both modes of racism should be made clear to the societies they are in. Direct, physical and ideological racism is the lesser devil, especially since the direct harms are obvious in the actions and can be limited by society and/or the Law. But when the Law itself creates a more racist and biased form of destruction that works on a slow and steady route, there is little that can be done by society to fight against it, especially if it creates the illusion of superiority towards the minority that is being subjugated.